Maine tourism took a hit over holiday weekend

Business was down sharply for many in the tourism industry over the Indigenous Peoples Day holiday weekend, and many in the industry are struggling.
Fall foliage in The Forks in 2019
Fall foliage in The Forks in 2019(WMTW)
Published: Oct. 24, 2020 at 8:45 AM EDT
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YARMOUTH, Maine (WMTW) - Ongoing coronavirus restrictions continue to take a bite out of the tourism industry in Maine. The Maine Tourism Association says tourism in the state over the long Indigenous Peoples Day weekend was down compared to 2019.

According to an association survey, 36% of businesses said their business over the holiday weekend was down more than 50% compared to a year ago. Of those, 15% said they were down more than 75%.

About a quarter of businesses said they lost less than 50% while another quarter said things were about the same. Just 13% said business was up compared to a year ago and about 6% said they were not able to open at all.

Business was best in the Bar Harbor and Acadia area as well as parts of Aroosook County. The association said that in-state travelers account for a lot of business, followed by visitors from Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey.

Many business owners said they continue to struggle with staffing shortages and added workload on staff due to COVID regulations and precautions. The association said the lack of H2B and J1 visa workers has hurt lodging properties in particular.

“This is just a snapshot in time from one survey but it’s very telling,” said Maine Tourism Association CEO Tony Cameron. “The people working in tourism are still struggling greatly. We will feel the impact for months, if not years, to come. The effects of being closed in the spring and having such limited capacity and visitors through the summer will catch up. Some businesses are persevering this year but may not be open next year.”

In 2019, the tourism industry in Maine supported over 116,000 workers, generated $9.7 billion in total sales and brought in nearly $650 million in tax dollars.

“The good news is that tourism is resilient,” said Cameron. “It is one of the few traditional Maine industries still going strong after 200 years of statehood. Tourism will survive and thrive.”

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